Plant R-genes involved in gene-for-gene interactions with pathogens are expected to undergo coevolutionary arms races in which plant specificity and pathogen virulence continually adapt in response to each other. Lending support to this idea, the solvent-exposed amino acid residues of leucine-rich repeats, a region of R-genes involved in recognizing pathogens, often evolve at unusually fast rates. But within-species polymorphism is also common in R-genes, implying that the adaptive substitution process is not simply one of successive selective sweeps. Here we document these features in available data and discuss them in light of the evolutionary dynamics they likely reflect.
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